51st birthday rally for Assange

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Free Assange demonstration outside Belmarsh Prison in Thamesmead, south-east London on Sunday – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s 51st birthday

OVER seventy campaigners demanding the release of Julian Assange attended a party outside Belmarsh prison on Sunday to celebrate his 51st birthday.

Assange has been held in Belmarsh since he was forcibly taken from the Ecuadorian embassy in April 2019.

Maxine Walker, addressing the gathering, said that the Committee to Defend Julian Assange has ‘organised this event today to mark Julian’s 51st birthday, his fourth in this vile hole, Belmarsh and to say to him he has the solidarity and support of millions of people throughout the world.

‘Those millions exist and they are doing things and they are fighting for his freedom.

‘People who know what he has done to expose our rulers are the people fighting for him and thinking of strategies to help him and to win the battle to prevent his extradition to the USA.

‘We salute you Julian. We salute your courage.

‘Supporters in the UK stretch from the isles of Scotland all the way down the UK, also support from the Latin American community here.

‘We are told we live in a democracy but we do not, because we know that when we are on the streets giving out leaflets and winning huge amount of public support for Julian Assange that if this were a democracy then he would be free.

‘If this were a democracy he would be nationally feted as a campaigner for truth, for his exposure of the very anti-democratic forces that are holding him in prison today and trying to extradite him – the very anti-democratic forces that cause mayhem death and destruction throughout the world.

‘In a democracy the war criminals, the Bushes, the Blairs, the arms salesmen, would be in jail.

‘The merchants of death who have killed up to a million people in Iraq and uncountable numbers elsewhere in the world – and continue their killing today – would be behind bars and Julian Assange would be free.

‘Recently, his wife Stella Morris said that it feels like there is a deliberate effort to remove Julian from view and turn him into prisoner X, faceless, voiceless, with no-one to bear witness to his treatment.

‘ “But Julian is not prisoner X” she said, “he is my husband and the father of our young children”.

‘We bear witness, and she said that the last time the media photographed Julian was in 2019 through the scratched windows of a prison van.

‘ “The UK authorities insist that our wedding photos are not made public on security grounds”.’

‘In court, Julian has not been permitted to sit with his lawyers and has not been allowed to attend many of his court hearings in person.

‘He has been disappeared. Silence.

‘Well what we do in our demonstrations, lobbying and social media is part of the resistance against the efforts of our rulers here, in the US, and in Australia, Sweden and other counties to disappear Julian Assange, and the grave injustices that have been done to him.’

‘The forces of the rich, the billionaires, the state, their vast apparatus of lies and propaganda, the massive military and intelligence apparatus is enormously strong.

‘It has the ability to construct narratives that are fictitious, and to get people to believe them, we have seen their efforts in relation to the Ukraine war, where US-led NATO is currently pumping in billions upon billions of our money into prolonging that war which is presented as a force for good.

‘Imagine trying to sell NATO as a force for good.

‘Never have the truthful voices about this and other injustices been so censored.

‘I recommend people read Jonathan Cook’s latest article that shows what the media has done – the billionaire-owned media has done – to the struggles of people throughout the world and claims that hundreds and hundreds of journalists in the US and in Britain are not just deluded in some way but are actually on the payroll of the CIA.

‘Although fiction is powerful, fictions only work if people are comfortable enough to go along with them.

‘In the oppressed nations, where, for instance in Ecuador thirty per cent of the people live on less than $2 a day, fictions are much harder to peddle.

‘And in the US and in its able lieutenant, the UK, we see people now being plunged into poverty.

‘Here, now five million children are food insecure. Priti Patel not only signed Julian’s extradition order, she seems to be, almost on a daily basis, introducing more and more reactionary laws in the House of Commons to suppress protest.

‘And I would say, what are they frightened of? Because things may look peaceful and suddenly that will change, people will not live the way they are being forced to live on many levels – and the poor and oppressed people certainly will not, and will rebel.

‘The powers that be fear mass opposition to even the final tiny bits of democracy, and democratic rights are being taken away from us.

‘Julian’s case is part of that taking away of the democratic right we have to be able to hear and speak the truth.

‘But no truth is to be told in this land of lies.

‘However powerful they look, and they are, the vast mass of people can be more powerful, it is up to us campaigners to draw in those forces, that is our job.

‘I recall, after the 1984 miners strike, which was a political battle, they had everything thrown at them; they had surveillance of their headquarters, they had an intelligence operative in a top role, they had everything thrown at them including massive police violence.

‘And yet, when you read the memoirs that those politicians wrote after the miners strike it was a very, very, close thing, the miners were very close to victory.

‘So don’t be downhearted, keep going, we keep up this struggle.

‘If the US and British ruling class did not fear their own defeat in the case of Julian Assange they would not have tried to disappear and silence him, to denigrate him. And they know when people hear the truth they will support him.

‘So we send our birthday greetings to Julian and we send this message to everyone – we are here, and we fight on for truth, justice and democracy and that one day the mass of people of humanity will one day rule the earth – Free Julian Assange!’

Speaking at another celebration in Camden, Stella Morris said she had spoken to Julian in the morning and he told her that some of the guards and some of the prisoners and the nurse in the prison wished him a happy birthday.

‘So, even in these institutions inflicting suffering there are decent people, yet there are decisions being made to prolong his suffering.’